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Tomandl: 'Cuts are not equitable'

PENN YAN—Penn Yan Central School District Assistant Superintendent for Business Douglas Tomandl addressed the issue of cuts to education during the meeting of the district board of education on Wednesday, Feb. 16.
Tomandl said, “The governor’s cuts are not equitable. Districts dependent on state aid get hit harder.” Tomandl used the example of the Rye-Neck District. This district receives 10 percent state aid. The state aid cut for that district is 16.86 percent. In contrast, the Penn Yan District lost 13.02 percent. The dollar loss for Rye-Neck is $240,000 and Penn Yan lost $2 million. Tomandl said to make up the loss, taxes would have to be increased 12 percent. This will not happen.
Tomandl said there is a group working toward reform of public school funding. The Statewide School Finance Consortium is an alliance for the reform of public school funding in New York State. Dr. Rick Timbs, executive director of the organization offered a comparison of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s comments and responses in a recent report.  Cuomo stated he has sought an average 2.9 percent reduction in overall school spending. The Consortium maintains the budget would reduce state aid by  7.3 percent.
Reserves were another area the governor outlined as a source districts could use. Cuomo said school districts have $1.5 billion in reserves and unspent federal funds. The Consortium disagrees, maintaining over 150 districts have insufficient reserves to cover the cuts.
Other areas of disagreement include freezing wages and having school district employees make the same health care contributions that state employees make. School districts do not have the authority to freeze wages. Changes in health care contributions can only occur with the consent of employees. The Consortium has called on the governor and legislature to cap the amount a school district may spend on health insurance. This would force employees to pay more.




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